skip to content

What's changed with Covid-19?

Some procedures for alcohol licensing have been changed by Government orders during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Government has issued an Immediate Modification Order giving Police and Medical Officers of Health extra time to scrutinise new licence applications and renewals. In summary the order makes the following changes:

  1. For applications received by Police and the Medical Officer of Health during the Epidemic Notice, the starting date for reporting is changed from the date of receipt of the application to the date of the ending of the Epidemic Notice.
  2. The number of working days for completion of reports will be 30, rather than the 15 currently required.
  3. Police and the Medical Officer of Health will be required to make a report on every application whereas at present they are not required to if they have no matters in opposition.

The effect of this order is that licensing will be delayed during the period of the epidemic. Provided licence renewal applications are lodged before the expiry of the current licence, businesses will be able to continue to trade. However for new licence applications the delay will impact on start-up.

This order is administered by the Ministry of Justice which has issued information about alcohol licensing during COVID-19 which covers questions about the changes it makes to alcohol licensing, and the licence applications that the Order applies to.

A copy of the order can also be accessed here.

What is a licence to sell alcohol?

Sale of alcohol to the public requires the seller to have a licence. There are four types of licence:

  • On-licence (eg, pub, tavern, hotel, restaurant, cafe, bar, entertainment venue, train, plane) allows the sale or supply of alcohol for consumption on the premises.
  • Off-licence (eg, bottle store, supermarket) allows the sale or supply of alcohol for consumption off the premises.
  • Club licence (eg, sports club, RSA, working men's club) allows the sale or supply of alcohol for consumption on the club premises to members of the club, their guests and members of other clubs with reciprocal visiting rights.
  • Special licence (eg, for a food and wine festival, wedding in a council hall etc) allows the sale or supply of alcohol to anyone attending an event, private function, street party, sporting event. Special licences can be either ‘on-site’ for consumption on the premises, or ‘off-site’ for consumption elsewhere.

An on-licence, off-licence, or club licence is granted initially for one year and then can be renewed every three years. Special licences are granted per event or for a series of events.

How to apply for a licence.

The licensing process.

Guide to applying for a licence to sell or supply alcohol (PDF, 952KB)

It allows the licensee to sell alcohol according to the conditions of the licence. Conditions cover such things as:

  • who alcohol can be sold to
  • the hours and days alcohol can be sold
  • who is allowed on the premises
  • the range of food, non-alcohol and low-alcohol drinks to be provided
  • provision of information about alternative transport arrangements.

There are requirements that may not be included on a licence but must nevertheless be adhered to. It is against the law for a licensee or their staff to sell alcohol to anyone who is intoxicated, to allow a person to become intoxicated, or to serve alcohol to anyone under the age of 18 years. There are heavy penalties for these offences.

Find out about licence criteria

Find out about the manager's role and required qualifications

If you're working in the hospitality sector as a licensee, manager or bar staff, Te Hiringa Hauora has a range of useful resources you can download or order.